A day in the life...
If you're interested, this is what I do on some "typical" days....
The morning of 7th August 2015
(I am on holiday today, so it's going to be a nice quiet morning)
At this point please note there was a 12-year gap in my entries on this page, so if you read on you are leaping far back into history now...
2. A working week-day in winter
7 a.m. It's a Friday near to the end of November. Seven o'clock in the morning, still dark, and the alarm goes off. If it's been a cold night Dodd the dog will be curled up in the bed and Bronson the cat will be on top of it making it hard for me to get out. I turn off the alarm and try not to wake Debbie as I get both dogs out of the room. On Fridays Debbie doesn't have to go in to work so she doesn't have to get up yet. Get dressed quickly, go downstairs and let the kittens out of the kitchen where they have to sleep because they play too noisily to be allowed the run of the house all night. Let Merve the cat in (if she's been out all night) or out (if she's been in). Go out to walk the dogs and find that the windows of the van need de-icing before we can drive to the woody park where they get their short morning walk. Bring them back from their walk, give them a bit to eat and have a mouthful of flapjack or something like that for myself. Leave the van for Debbie to use, de-ice the windows of the car, and drive it off to Keele. It's about 7.45, and I need to go via the livery yard to feed Meg and put her out into the field. It's still dark when I get to the yard, but other horses are being put out about the same time so Meg has company in the field. Debbie will come later to do the mucking out so I'm only on the yard for ten minutes, then drive on to work. I change out of my wellies in the car park and get into the department for about eight o'clock.
8 a.m. I pick up my mail from the pigeon holes on my way in.
This will be mail that was delivered yesterday afternoon. Take it up to
Today there is a letter about setting up an arrangement with colleagues at another University to use some of their lab equipment, a letter about a colleague to whom I have been acting as academic mentor, a newsletter from the British Geomorphological Research Group, a note from a colleague about student registers and arrangements for tutorials, a request for my annual subscription to the International Glaciological Society, a catalogue from a lab equipment company, and a contract to sign for the new edition of a book that I'm working on. That's more mail than I typically have in one morning. Most of my correspondence is by e-mail. By the time I've dealt with the easy bits of the paper mail it's 8.15, and I check the e-mails. That keeps me busy till 8.30 by which time I've boiled the kettle three times but not actually got around to pouring out the water to make coffee. I do that, and start work on the first urgent tasks of the day. I have a tutorial coming up at 9 so I spend some time reminding myself what I plan to do in it, make sure I have the register and various bits of paper ready, and make sure I remember any special things I need to say to particular students. There's also a lecture coming up later in the day so I also make a start getting ready for that. While I'm doing that the departmental administrator comes to see me with a query about an adult education module that I teach, and I ring Debbie to say hello and make sure she's up in time for things that she needs to be doing.
9 a.m. I'm setting off a student-led tutorial for an absent colleague
as well as teaching a tutorial of my own at 9, so there's a bit of to-and-fro
between groups at first, then 50 minutes with my group. After the tutorial
there are a couple of students with particular problems or queries so I
see them for a few minutes each and it's 10.20 before I'm all finished.
Phone Debbie, who's working at home, to say hello and check that everything's
OK.Then I have 30 minutes before I have to head off to my 11 o'clock lecture,
which is in another building. I use the time to make a start on a couple
of jobs that have arisen from the morning e-mails: a contributor to a book
that I'm editing has e-mailed me a draft of his article so I have to download
and print it, reply to him to acknowledge receipt, log it in my spreadsheet
of who's sent what, and check to see that what he's written is roughly
what I was expecting. Later I'll have to review the article thoroughly,
but that will be after Christmas! One of my postgraduate students comes
in to ask for advice while I'm working on this, and that takes me up to
1 p.m. Free finally to get on with some of the jobs that are at the top of my agenda for the day. I am writing some e-mails to contributors to my edited book, and I need time to concentrate. That's something in short supply during term time. I manage that, find time to do the paperwork on the contract that came in the mail, send off my subscription to the IGS and deal with another contributor's submission that arrived during the morning (download, print, check, file, spreadsheet, reply).
2 p.m. It's two o'clock and since I've been at work without a break for a solid six hours, and it's a friday afternoon when all said and done, I reckon I've had enough! 6 hours non-stop is more or less an "8-hour day" when other people take an hour for lunch and a couple of coffee breaks. I've no appointments or meetings, so I pack up and head for home. I have something to eat and a cup of coffee with Debbie, then head out to give the dogs another walk (unless Debbie managed to do them earlier, or unless we decide to do them together later). Then I check my e-mails again from home to make sure no one has been needing me at work. If anything has cropped up I deal with it by e-mail or phone from home. normally there might be an e-mail from a student asking for advice, or some admin business from a colleague or, at the moment, something from one of the contributors to the big book.
4 p.m. Out with Debbie to go and get Meg in from her wet and
muddy field.Sometimes Debbie will have done all the jobs earlier in the
day so we just bring Meg in and feed her. Other days we have to do all
the jobs together, including a muck out, refilling water buckets, filling
hay nets, and all the other horsey chores.If we didn't give the dogs a
quick walk earlier, we'll give them one now. Today we're going out to the
pictures so it's quickly back home from Meg to get ready and grab something
to eat... then out for the evening
9.30 p.m. We're back home for about 9.30, and Debbie checks her horses for tomorrow on the internet while I check my e-mail one more time and may be flick through the channels on TV for half an hour. Then it's time to put the dogs and cats variously in and out, make sure that everybody (bunny, fish, birds etc) is fed and watered, and turn off (or on) the various things that need to be on (or off) for the night. Then to bed, probably to read for a bit before lights out.
10.30 p.m. It's about light's out time, unless the bedtime reading
is especially unputdownable. Bronson the cat will be on the bed, if it's
cold Dodd will be asking to get in. Lurch will be on the floor twitching
irritatingly. Set the alarm for 7, expecting to be woken at 3 to let Lurch
out for a wee. If I'm not sleepy and Debbie is, I might get up and watch
TV or work for a bit, coming back to bed about midnight... if I can squeeze
in between the assorted cats and dogs that will have stolen my space!
3. Doing nothing much on a week-end in the summer vacation
7.30 a.m. It's a Saturday morning in a sunny June. If we haven't already been woken up by a cat or the dog the alarm will get us up by about 7.30. While Debbie gets herself up I take Dodd out for his morning constitutional. He's too old and arthritic to walk too far so I drive him to an area of woods and grassland where he can potter around and explore all the exciting doggy smells!
8.00 a.m. Back home for coffee and toast watching the morning news and the morning horseracing programme with Debbie. May check e-mails and deal with any essential work ones that have come in.
8.45 a.m. Out with Debbie to visit Meg the horse. Get her out of the field, give her a quick brush, and Debbie saddles up for a ride around the country lanes. Debbie rides while I walk alongside taking photos and enjoying the morning sunshine. The little walk that we do is in a geomorphologically interesting area around Keele so I'm always finding some new aspect of the view to wonder about, as well as trying to photograph birds and weird insects before they move!
10.00 a.m. We're back from our ride/walk and Meg is back out with her friends in the field. Debbie and I now head off for a bit of a Saturday morning out: we sometimes go into town for breakfast and a look around the shops, but today we drive out into the countryside and head for a place between Madeley and Nantwich that does toasties, cream scones and milkshake in a sunny little courtyard. The fact that it is built on some interesting glacial sediments is only one of its many charms. Others include the proximity of a model railway shop and some 2nd-hand bookshops! On this occasion we share a cheese and onion toastie, salad, and a cream scone before I buy a 2nd-hand goods shed for one of my model railways.
12.00 noon. After a nice country drive back from our morning out it's back home for a cup of tea in the garden so that the cats can play out. Because 2 of the cats have "special needs" they have to be supervised when they're out of doors, so it's a good excuse for us to sit out and have a read and a cuppa. I also take the opportunity to do a bit of gardening: mowing lawns, trimming edges and hedges, etc. Today we have plants to plant that we bought earlier in the week.
3.00 p.m. For me the afternoon rushes by in a kaleidoscope of gardening, accomodating the new goods shed onto the model railway, playing with the cats and dogs, chatting to Colin over the fence, doing things like updating these web pages, and perhaps taking a few moments out to relax in the shade with a book or magazine. For Debbie, the afternoon is filled with horseracing on the TV and looking after the needy animals. At some time mid-afternoon we break from all this activity to have a nice cup of tea, then it's back into the fray. Some weekends this relaxing scene is devastated by the need to work, but luckily for me this particular weekend is set aside for doing nothing much!
5.30 p.m. Time once again to do things for the dog and horse. Dodd gets a little walk, while Meg gets a visit in her field to check that all's well.
6.30 p.m. If we are not doing anything hyper-exciting like going out for the evening, then we usually have a couple of hours of chilling before settling down to our evening in. This particular week end is full of world cup football matches, so it's an evening with Italy v USA for us! (Debbie has a strong interest, being one quarter Italian!).
10.30 p.m. After the excitement of seeing 3 players sent off and a couple of goals we calm down watching an episode of "Sue Thomas, FBI" before calling it a day. A nice relaxing day!
4. A working week-day in the summer vacation
example coming soon...
5. Peter's day off in the summer vacation (August 2006)
Even on days off the alarm gets us about 7 or 7.30. Breakfast (coffee and toast) with the TV news, and then a few little jobs (seeing to fish, cats, plants etc) while Debbie gets ready then we're off: First there's a visit to Meg involving a nice walk across her summery field with great views for miles out towards the welsh borders and into the mountains. After that we head off with Dodd the dog for a walk along a country track public footpath: today the farmer has all the cows out in the field we walk through. We meet the farmer and he gets out of his van to come and play with Dodd. After that, we drive Dodd back home for his morning snooze, as it will be too hot in the car to take him with us. Then we're off again: this time we're down the M6: Debbie wants to go "spotting" at Stafford services: we've not been there before and we discover they do her favorite food as a take-out, so we sit in the lorry-park stuffing our faces! Then onwards down the M6 and along some more previously unexplored roads until we find Amerton, where there is a wildlife rescue centre attached to a craft-centre / teashop / working farm type of place. We got to tickle foxes, hedgehogs, crows and a magpie among other things! Next it's homewards (via Tesco and another spotting stop on a motorway overbridge with a nice relaxing sit-in-the-sun) to discover that the postman has left a "collect your parcel from the depot" card. So it's off to the depot to collect a parcel of model railway bits and pieces: so that's my afternoon sorted - a couple of hours meddling with insulating fishplates and electrical frogs! Mix in a nice cup of tea and there's a very pleasant afternoon. About 5.30 I go off into the country again for a walk in Meg's field to check that she's OK, and then home for tea and time to plan tomorrow's outing: I think a walk along the canal beside the Churnet Valley Steam Railway might be on the cards!